LandMarks Magazine  
   

February 2008 Table of Contents

 
 

Receiving God's Blessing, Part I
By Jana Grosboll

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Over the past few months, I have been contemplating God’s blessing.  What does the word blessing mean?  It means, approval.  In a spiritual sense, it means, God’s approval.  Come with me as we look at God’s promised blessing in the Bible.

 

To the Righteous

 

“Salvation [belongeth] unto the Lord: thy blessing [is] upon thy people.”  “Blessings [are] upon the head of the just.”  Psalm 3:8; Proverbs 10:6.  God blesses us for doing what is right. 

 

“Nothing can do us real good without the blessing of God.  What God blesses is blessed.  Therefore ‘a little that a righteous man hath is better that the riches of many wicked.’  Psalm 37:16.  The little with the blessing of God is more efficient, and it will extend farther.  The grace of God will make a little go a great ways.  When we devote ourselves to the affairs of the kingdom of God, He will mind our affairs.”  Our High Calling, 196.

 

“If the mind is educated to contemplate heavenly things, the appetite will not be satisfied with that which is cheap and common.  We must bear in mind that the Lord is prepared to do great things for us, but we must be prepared to receive these things by emptying from the heart all self-sufficiency and self-confidence.  The Lord alone is to be exalted.  ‘Them that honour me,’ He says, ‘I will honour.’  1 Samuel 2:30.  We need not be on the strain for recognition, for ‘the Lord knoweth them that are his.’  11 Timothy 2:19.  Those who do not put confidence in themselves, but look with distrust upon their own work, are the ones to whom the Lord will reveal His glory.  They will make the best use of the blessings received.”  This Day With God, 300.

 

Blessing of Law

 

God’s Law is a blessing.  “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day.”  Deuteronomy 11:26, 27.  

 

Travel in a third world country certainly brings better understanding of how law is a blessing.  A number of years ago I traveled to the Philippines to attend a camp meeting.  I was amazed to see as we drove that when a traffic light turned red, the drivers ignored the red light and continued going through the intersection for a while.  There was a policeman on the corner, but he did not do anything about all the cars going through against the red light.  He did not attempt to pull anyone over for disobeying the signal.  Later, we were in a hurry to get to the airport; we were in danger of missing our flight home.  Our driver actually drove on the wrong side of the road to get past a traffic jam.  As we were traveling on the wrong side of the road, oncoming vehicles had to move out of our way to keep from hitting us. 

 

When I returned to the United States, I really appreciated the traffic laws that we have and the police who actually enforce the laws.  Truly, obedience to law is a blessing. 

 

“Let it be made plain that the way of God’s commandments is the way of life.  God has established the laws of nature, but His laws are not arbitrary exactions.  Every ‘Thou shalt not,’ whether in physical or in moral law, implies a promise.  If we obey it, blessing will attend our steps.  God never forces us to do right, but He seeks to save us from the evil and lead us to the good.”  The Ministry of Healing, 114.

 

Ellen White expressed how God’s Law can be a blessing to families: “The Lord is full of loving-kindness, mercy, and truth.  His law is holy, just, and good, and must be obeyed by parents and children.  The rules which should regulate the lives of parents and children flow from a heart of infinite love, and God’s rich blessing will rest upon those parents who administer His law in their homes, and upon the children who obey this law.”  The Adventist Home, 311, 312.

 

Counsel was also given as to how a blessing may be missed: “The young man who makes the Bible his guide need not mistake the path of duty and of safety.  That Book will teach him to preserve his integrity of character, to be truthful, to practice no deception.  It will teach him that he must never transgress God’s law in order to accomplish a desired object, even though to obey involves a sacrifice.  It will teach him that the blessing of heaven will not rest upon him if he departs from the path of right doing; that although men may appear to prosper in disobedience, they will surely reap the fruit of their sowing.”  Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 449, 450.

 

Showers of Blessing

 

God’s people will receive showers of blessing.  “I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.”  Ezekiel 34:26.  These “showers of blessing” may be realized in material ways and spiritual ways.

 

“God is constantly giving His blessing to His dependent children, in the sunshine and showers, which cause vegetation to flourish, and the earth to yield her bounties for the service of man.  These blessings are not bestowed upon us to encourage our selfish natures, by retaining the treasures of God’s bounty, and fixing our affections on them, but that we may render back to the Giver, gifts and offerings.  This is the least expression of gratitude and love that we can return to our benevolent Creator.”  Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, 99.

 

“He who seeks to give light to others will himself be blessed.  ‘There shall be showers of blessing.’  ‘He that watereth shall be watered also himself.’  Ezekiel 34:26; Proverbs 11:25.  God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid; but in order for us to develop a character like Christ’s, we must share in His work.”  The Desire of Ages, 142.

 

“Today you are to have your vessel purified, that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement.  It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”  Evangelism, 701.

 

Walk in God’s Path

 

“Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”  Psalm 1:1.

 

“The ungodly are those who do not love and obey the commandments of God, but go contrary to them.  This is the class of counselors you are warned to shun,—the class which Satan uses to lead youth astray.  Their counsel, their suggestions, are of a character to make light of sin, to ridicule righteousness. …  They are represented as standing in the way of sinners, always leading them out of the straight path of duty and obedience to God’s commandments into paths of disobedience.”  Sons and Daughters of God, 211.

 

While attending university, I learned that there is a lot of cheating among the students.  In a circuits lab that was required for my Electrical Engineering degree, my lab partner had access to all the answers.  I did the majority of the required lab work.  He did very little of the work, and what he did do he would always check to make sure was right—according to the answers he had.  Students could buy answers for tests or labs from other students.  The way of the world is to cheat. 

 

The counsel of the ungodly leads us away from the path that God would have us walk.  If we walk in God’s path we are blessed.

 

“Those who have the blessing of the Lord are highly favored. …  Be sure, then, that you do not choose the ungodly as your companions, for they will influence you to do those very things that will displease God and deprive you of His blessing.”  That I May Know Him, 319.

 

Transgressions Forgiven

 

“Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [whose] sin [is] covered.”  Psalm 32:1.  “The blessing comes because of pardon; pardon comes through faith that the sin, confessed and repented of, is borne by the great Sin Bearer.  Thus from Christ cometh all our blessings.”  Our High Calling, 83.

 

“Do not worry yourself out of the arms of the dear Saviour, but rest trustingly in faith.  He loves you; He cares for you.  He is blessing you and will give you His peace and grace.  He is saying to you, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’  Matthew 9:2.  You may be depressed with bodily infirmities, but that is not evidence that the Lord is not working in your behalf every day.  He will pardon you, and that abundantly.  Gather to your soul the sweet promises of God.  Jesus is our constant, unfailing friend, and He wants you to trust in Him. …  Look away from yourself to the perfection of Christ.”  That I May Know Him, 285.

 

“Another said that he had been in discouragement, and almost in despair, but the words spoken in these morning meetings had helped him.  Rays of light had broken in upon his mind, dispelling the dark clouds that enshrouded him, and he felt that the Lord, for Christ’s sake, had forgiven his sins.  He could now see that unbelief had been the greatest hindrance to his enjoyment of the blessing of God.”  Review and Herald, June 10, 1884.

 

We are blessed when we are released from the bondage of guilt for the sins that we have committed.

 

Return to God

 

We are blessed when we give back to God some of what He has given to us.  “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].”  Malachi 3:10.

 

“God cannot bless men in lands and flocks when they do not use his blessings for his glory.  He cannot trust his treasure to those who misapply it.  In the simplest language the Lord has told his children what he requires of them.  They are to pay tithes of all they possess, and to make offerings of that which he bestows upon them.  His mercies and blessings have been abundant and systematic.  He sends down his rain and sunshine, and causes vegetation to flourish.  He gives the seasons; sowing and reaping-time come in their order; and the unfailing goodness of God calls for something better than the ingratitude and forgetfulness that men render to him.  Shall we not return to God, and with grateful hearts present our tithes and offerings?  The Lord has made duty so plain that if we neglect to fulfill his requirements we shall be without excuse.  The Lord has left his goods in the hands of his servants to be handled with equity, that the gospel may be preached in all the world.  The arrangement and provision for the spread of his truth in the world has not been left to chance.  The tithe is the Lord’s, it is his interest money, and it is to be paid regularly and promptly into his treasury.  We are to render him his own with gladness for his love toward those who are so undeserving of his mercy.”  The Signs of the Times, January 13, 1890.

 

How to Get Blessings

 

There are many other blessings pronounced in the Bible, but as I was thinking of these blessings, I asked myself the question, How can I obtain the blessing of God?  The story that came to my mind was the story of Jacob when he wrestled with the angel.  Then I asked myself, What were the steps that Jacob took before he received God’s blessing?  We can all learn from Jacob’s experience and how he received God’s blessing.  We can learn what God blesses. 

 

Atone for Wrong

 

Jacob did all in his power to atone for his wrong against his brother.  (Read Genesis 32:3–5, 13–21.)  He sent presents to his brother. 

 

“He [Jacob] did all in his power to atone for the wrong to his brother and to avert the threatened danger, and then in humiliation and repentance he pleaded for divine protection: Thou ‘saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.  Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.’ [Genesis 32:9–11.]”  Patriarchs and Prophets, 196.

 

We must ask ourselves whether or not there is something in our lives hindering us from receiving God’s blessings.  Jacob made sure that his sin was confessed; he did not want anything between himself and God.

In reviewing his life, Jacob realized that it was a result of his sin that put the lives of his family in jeopardy from his brother Esau.  “Bitterest of all was the thought that it was his own sin which had brought this peril upon the innocent.”  Ibid., 197.

 

Recognize God’s Direction

 

Jacob also realized that God had directed him thus far in his life and had led him to the point where he was.  (Genesis 32:9.)

 

“Though Jacob had left Padan-aram in obedience to the divine direction, it was not without many misgivings that he retraced the road which he had trodden as a fugitive twenty years before.  His sin in the deception of his father was ever before him.  He knew that his long exile was the direct result of that sin, and he pondered over these things day and night, the reproaches of an accusing conscience making his journey very sad.  As the hills of his native land appeared before him in the distance, the heart of the patriarch was deeply moved.  All the past rose vividly before him.  With the memory of his sin came also the thought of God’s favor toward him, and the promises of divine help and guidance.”  Ibid., 195.

 

I am sure we can each look back on our lives and see where God many times has directed us in the way we should go.  Sometimes in our lives, though, it looks as if the way God has directed us is the wrong way. 

 

This must have been the way it seemed to Jacob, since he was facing possible death from his brother, but he knew God had directed him to where he was.  It was like God had directed him to the Red Sea as he did with the Israelites.  God seems to lead us into places that appear as though there is no way out, but then sooner or later He opens a way for us that we cannot even imagine.

 

Recognize Unworthiness

 

Jacob recognized that he was unworthy of God’s favor and mercies and that God had blessed him with property and possessions.  (Genesis 32:10.)  He thanked God for what He had done for him.

 

One reason why God does not bestow more and larger blessings upon his people is that they would not appreciate them and render to God the things that are God’s.  Every Christian should often review his past life, and never should he forget the precious deliverances which God has wrought for him, supporting him in trial, consoling him in affliction, opening ways for him when all seemed dark and forbidding, refreshing him when ready to faint under discouragements.  And in view of all these innumerable blessings, he should be melted and subdued, grateful and humble.  He may well exclaim, ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?’  The rendering to God will not be merely in words of thankfulness, but in tithes and offerings.  The Christian will practice self-denial and self-sacrifice to make returns to God.”  The Signs of the Times, April 24, 1879.

 

A number of weeks ago, I decided to start writing down some of the ways in which God has led in my life and for which I am thankful.  When I started, I remembered so many things that I could not keep up with recording them all!  First and foremost, I am thankful to God for His goodness, mercy, and leading, and for guiding and directing my life.  Second, I am most thankful for my parents who instilled in me God’s love.  They have been such a Christian example and support.  My list goes on from there.

 

Ask and Claim

 

Jacob asked God for deliverance from the situation and claimed God’s promises.  (Genesis 32:11, 9, 12.)

 

“Those who are unwilling to forsake every sin and to seek earnestly for God’s blessing, will not obtain it.  But all who will lay hold of God’s promises as did Jacob, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded.  ‘Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.’  Luke 18:7, 8.”  Patriarchs and Prophets, 203.

 

“Yet Jacob’s history is an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been betrayed into sin, but who have returned unto Him with true repentance.  It was by self-surrender and confiding faith that Jacob gained what he had failed to gain by conflict in his own strength.  God thus taught His servant that divine power and grace alone could give him the blessing he craved.  Thus it will be with those who live in the last days.  As dangers surround them, and despair seizes upon the soul, they must depend solely upon the merits of the atonement.  We can do nothing of ourselves.  In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour.  None will ever perish while they do this.  The long, black catalogue of our delinquencies is before the eye of the Infinite.  The register is complete; none of our offenses are forgotten.  But He who listened to the cries of His servants of old, will hear the prayer of faith and pardon our transgressions.  He has promised, and He will fulfill His word.” Ibid., 202, 203.

 

Wrestle in Prayer

 

We must, as did Jacob, spend time with God alone in prayer.  (Genesis 32:24.) 

 

Ellen White wrote: “I do not understand the tameness in the requests offered to God.  We are to urge our way into the very presence of God, into the Holy Place of the Most High.  We are to plead for that which we most need,—the bread of life, the leaf from the tree of life.  As Jacob wrestled with the angel, saying, ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me’ [Genesis 32:26], so we are to wrestle in prayer until we prevail.  We are to ask with an urgency that will not be turned away, that expects God to bestow His blessings with a liberality that is an assurance to all fear.”  The Signs of the Times, August 7, 1901.

 

“Jacob, in the great crisis of his life, turned aside to pray. …  Wounded and helpless, he fell upon the Saviour’s breast, pleading for a blessing.  He would not be turned aside, nor cease his intercession, and Christ granted the petition of this helpless, penitent soul. ... That for which Jacob had vainly wrestled in his own strength, was won through self-surrender and steadfast faith.”  Sons and Daughters of God, 127.

 

It was night when Jacob prayed.  It was midnight, the darkest hour.  Jacob was in a dark hour of his life experience as well.  (Genesis 32:22.) 

 

Have you come to those places in your life where you think there is no way, humanly speaking, that you can get out of a situation?  It is dark, and you cannot see which way to turn?  Well, that is where Jacob was. 

I do not know how God does it, but when we turn to Him, He will bring us out of those situations.

 

Persistence

 

Jacob was persistent; he would not stop or let go of God until he knew that he was blessed.  (Genesis 32:26.) 

As I thought of being persistent, I thought of another passage in the Bible: “[It was] but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.”  Song of Solomon 3:4.  Have you had that experience with God where you would not let go of Him when you found Him?  That was what Jacob did until he knew that he was approved of God and forgiven of his sin. 

 

Referring to Jacob’s struggle as mentioned in the Book of Hosea 12:3, 4, Ellen White wrote: “Jacob ‘had power over the Angel, and prevailed.’  Hosea 12:4.  Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven.  He had fastened his trembling grasp upon the promises of God, and the heart of Infinite Love could not turn away the sinner’s plea.”  Patriarchs and Prophets, 197.

 

“Jacob would not be turned away. …  He held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed. …

 

“Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined.”  Ibid., 201–203.

 

“Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it.”  Reflecting Christ, 371.

 

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”  Matthew 11:12.  The meaning of this text escaped me, until I looked at it in light of the story of Jacob.  We must be determined, persevering, and earnest to make it to God’s kingdom—so much so that we take it by force, just as Jacob did when he was wrestling with the Angel.

 

“[Matthew 11:12 quoted.]  The violence here meant is a holy earnestness, such as Jacob manifested.  We need not try to work ourselves up into an intense feeling; but calmly, persistently, we are to press our petitions at the throne of grace. ... that the blessing might reflect glory to God.  It is the design of God to reveal Himself in His providence and in His grace.  The object of our prayers must be the glory of God, not the glorification of ourselves.”  Ye Shall Receive Power, 27.

 

[All emphasis added.]

 

To be continued

 

A network engineer, Jana Grosboll lives near Derby, Kansas.  She may be contacted by e-mail at: janawwjd@yahoo.com.

February 2008 Table of Contents

 

       
 

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